Calif. PD to pay former officer $400K in settlement over alleged harassment
Retired officer Nabil Haidar said he was the target of anti-Muslim remarks, claiming the harassment caused him to suffer depression, anxiety and PTSD
By Jason Green
Bay Area News Group
SAN JOSE — A former San Jose police officer will receive a $400,000 payout to settle a lawsuit that claimed his colleagues subjected him to constant Islamophobic harassment.
The San Jose City Council approved the pre-trial settlement with Nabil Haidar on Tuesday.
The Lebanese-American officer sued the department in 2018, alleging he was the target of anti-Muslim remarks and insults that ramped up following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He claimed the comments associated him with radical organizations and car bombings, and that he was referred to with slurs attacking his background.
The city, for its part, argued Haidar was a willing participant and responded to the remarks in kind.
“Officer Haidar is a hero for taking on powers that be within the department, including the top command staff, in order to expose racism and Islamophobia,” Haidar’s Oakland-based attorney, Randall Strauss, said in a statement. “He fought this case for years in the face of intense pressure that ultimately cost him his career in order to seek justice for himself, his family and all victims of discrimination by police officers, his family and all victims of discrimination by police officers.”
In his suit, Haidar called attention to a briefing in November 2017, when a captain was recognizing veterans in the room and a sergeant allegedly stated, “Captain, you forgot to mention Nabil. He is an ISIS veteran. He was with ISIS for two years.”
The city contended in legal filings that Haidar responded to the comments by making crude remarks about the sergeant’s spouse and joking about his Italian background.
Both the sergeant and another officer Haidar accused of making Islamophobic remarks received week-long suspensions for their comments, according to court documents.
Legal filings showed Haidar went on medical leave in 2019, returned to light duty in 2021 and filed for retirement the following year. In addition to suing for economic damages from his shortened career, he claimed the alleged harassment caused him to suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress.
Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this report.